The Anniversary of My Mother's Death Nears
And Another War Has Come and Gone

By Andrena Zawinski

"Nothing has changed
Except for the courses of rivers,
the contours of forests, seashores, deserts and icebergs."
from Torture by Wislawa Szymborska

It's the same
old story.
Another body is going into the ground today.
It is somebody's mother. A daughter
weeps for the wrap of the arms that once
stilled her trembling body in their firm
hold on her. It's the same old story. Another
war is going on again, this one 25 years past
the fall of Saigon, missiles behind, explosions
inside. Men suit up like boys again
in flak jackets for the media blitz,
and there are wars
going on all over.

The rituals
We light candles, the kind that burn
seven days. We don't question these acts.
We get on our knees like martyrs, like beggars,
heads bent like priests, say prayers, go
to the wall with our pain, wrestling
our need to be here. We bury our faces
in our hands, lament cross deeds, swallow sobs.
We move on, negotiating mine fields everywhere
where the story takes
the same twist.

Some stranger
extends a hand to you, says
I'm sorry for your long suffering
in the relentless face of death, so you
lift yourself from your knees, look off
beyond the grave toward the river the future
courses through, reshaping contours
of the world, and for a moment it seems
to slow, grow glassy, come in closer to you,
your eyes a blur and trying to follow where
it might lead, when the gravedigger's shovel
hits the ground in a thud, and you become still,
watch him rub the small of his back.



Andrena Zawinski, born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, now lives and teaches in Oakland, CA. Her full collection, Traveling in Reflected Light, was a Kenneth Patchen competition winner from Pig Iron Press. Her latest chapbook was released from Pudding House Publications as part of their Greatest Hits series. She is Feature Editor at and Co-Chair of Bay Area Poets for Peace.


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